Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Acceptable losses

Back in Wrath, and to some extent BC, I considered it a failure on my part if someone in the group died. Did I use all my CDs? Could I have used BoP or LoH to save that person? Was my game not at 100%? With the healing we had at the end of Wrath, everything was treated with a Holy Light - just in case.

Now? I don't mind if a DPS dies.

Fire is finally bad

Here's a big problem with players now, particularly those that thing Heroics are too hard. Back at the start of Wrath I remember going into H-HoL and taking on Loken. This. Fight. Was. Hard. Move too slow - dead. Don't move in fast enough - dead. Nothing on the planet could have prevented it. I managed to get the achievement on my Shaman long before I did on my Pally, and that's only because we blew Heroism and CH was OP.

H-UP, final boss - the one that dies and comes back as a shadow. Ignore that shockwave at the start of Wrath, and you were a smear on the floor. Hunter in H-OK? You're dead in the first Mind Control. Anyone remember what happened in Vanilla MC when you didn't run out of the raid during Baron Gheddon? Yeah - you wiped the raid.

Of course a year+ into Wrath, and fire was a joke. The only thing on the planet that could kill you was Defile - unless it was a heroic Putricide ball. Even Sindragosa's cold snap was eventually laughed into submission.

Unfortunately this mentality of ignoring mechanics and laughing at damage rolled into Cataclsym dungeons and heroics. Asking someone to CC something is a sign of weakness, and if you do manage to get a CC off odds are someone will break it on the pull. Unfortunately, this attitude will kill parties faster than you can say "Have you ever been to the Deadmines?".

Raid Ready

If you've run H-Deadmines successfully, you've probably picked up this achievement - the one that basically laughs at anyone who "doesn't" move out of the fire. What I think is lost on players is that unlike Wrath (or maybe like Wrath - depending on your pov), heroics are finally teaching players how to raid again.

You absolutely cannot afford to overheal - mana just doesn't allow for it.

Standing in the "Giant Big"(TM) will get you killed.

Failing to kill Adds fast enough will get you killed.

One person's failure can wipe the party/raid.

Spending gold on enchants/gems/gear is cool again. Even if it does set you back 3 days worth of grinding.

You cannot walk into an encounter with a random group of people and expect to faceroll your way to victory.

Letting you die

In the end, I still love the Heroic level we have right now. I'm going to feel a little sad if we wind up doing the faceroll dance in another month, but I suppose it could happen.

Oh yeah - if you die because you stood in fire, I'm not going to feel bad about that. I'll just chalk you up as an acceptable loss.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Omnitron Deactivated - Crib Notes

In our second foray into Blackrock we managed to take out the Omnitron Defense system. For those unfamilliar with this fight it is a standard council fight, where you will be confronting four different 'mini' bosses throughout the fight. The bosses all share a single health pool, and each has their own special abillities.

BigWigs was working for this encounter, though I used DBM for Magmaw. YMMV as they say.

If you want a complete walkthrough, go check out tankspot or bosskillers. Here's the Crib Sheet version, with an emphasis for healers. We used a Holy Paladin, Resto-Shaman, and Druid for this fight. It's more about control and staying alive than raw DPS output.

Shared 'lookout' abilities

Each 'Tron' will have an ability that focuses a single party member, an AoE, and a shield that they put up to force a target change. Your tanks will have to hold off a few seconds during a target switch, otherwise they'll kill themselves. This will reduce the amount of self healing they can perform, so keep a weather eye out.


AoE - Standard fire - shoots all across the room, no range. We used Aura Mastery and and Divine Gaurdian to help soften this.

Single Target - At least once per 'active' time, Magmatron will announce that he is "Aquireing Target x". This person will need to get clear of the raid (A big, giant, MASSIVE red beam will be on them before the fire starts) and will need to have dedicated healing or use some CDs to get through this focus fire.

Electron (guess what power he uses?)

AoE - Similar to Freya, one player will get a static field placed on them (Lightning Conductor). Stay away from this player and there's nothing to worry about. They don't take damage, just those that they get near.

Single Target - Technically this could be an AoE, since it's a chain lightning, but as long as you're more than 8yds apart, this will only hit one person.

Arcanatron (you'll never get this one - come on, guess!)

AoE - Power Genorator. This is similar to the Iron Council, a pool will appear on the ground that you need to move the boss out of ASAP. Standing in the pool provides a huge chunk of mana return, as well as significantly increasing the DPS of your ranged. Use at your own risk, depending on which other Tron is up at the moment.

Single Target - The only interruptable ability, this will do a ton of damage (about 60k) to one player, it should be interuupted whenever possible. It is worth the DPS loss to have someone sit on this, even when this Tron is shielded (just don't DPS while waiting to interrupt).


AoE - Chemical Bomb gets shot at a random raid member, and it makes a big cloud on the ground. Drag the Tron into this to get a big damage boost - don't stand in it.

Single Target - Poison Protocol will target 3 members (in 10m, unsure about 25m) with small adds that will explode on contact killing their target, and leaving a nasty pile of goo on the ground. We put all DPS on them, since they can target anyone (including the tank on the other Tron), and they seem to have an affinity for healers.

The fight in a nutshell

Pull the active Tron. After approx 60 sec, the 2nd tank will pick up the new Tron, and DPS switches. Handle any AoE nonsense, and repeat until dead.


  • If you get Toxitron first, have the raid stack up together near him - until the first cloud comes out. This will let you position him in the cloud early, and is a great time for an early Bloodlust. Remember to spread out to avoid the little slimes though.
  • Arcanatron and Electron pose an interesting challenge. You'll want to stay spread out to minimize damage from the Chain Lightning, but still get the mana regen and ranged DPS boost from the Arcane pool. Choose wisely.
  • The fight is long, so pace yourself.
  • Don't hit a shielded add. If someone happens to hit Toxitron's shield, you can dispell the poison.

Good luck and have fun with him. Hopefully I'll have a new Crib Sheet for something other than Magmaw later this week.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Magmaw Kill Video

It's not pretty, but it's effective. We used a two tank, two healer composition (Paladin/DK, Paladin/Druid) with an enhancement shaman (POV for this video) tossing out healing rain as needed, and our Prot and Ret paladins assiting with AoE (aka the Sparkle Pony heal) during the big AoE damage points.

Team Intensity standard raid comp -
Tanks - Prot Pally, DK
Healers - Holy Paladin, Druid
DPS - Elemental Shaman, Boomkin, Ret Paladin, Rogue, Shadow Priest, Hunter

Enjoy, and remember to watch it in all its 1080p hi-def deliciousness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Need before Greed - Broken as hell or working as intended

Today's post is a little longer than normal - there's a TLDR at the end if you want to skip ahead.  Otherwise pull up your chair, grab some coffee, and put on your thinking caps.
Rewards.  Without a doubt it is the single most driving force in the World of Warcraft.  While not everyone's idea of loot may be the same, at the end of the day it's why most of us play the game.  It doesn't matter if you're a pet collector, achievement junkie, PvPer or PvEer - we're all after that reward that feeds our desire to continue playing.  For the pet collector it may be that rare drop pet from an instance (looking at you Phoenix Hatchling) or the Hyacinth MaCaw you've been farming.  For an achievement junkie it might be leveling to 85 without dying (is that really an achievement?) or getting the Insane title.  Either way, you get the idea.  I personally feel that anyone who says "I'm just here for the story" is probably full of it.  I'm here for the scraps of awesome that I can pick up - be those items, mounts, or a little worm that does a back flip every once in a while. 
How the looting works
Right now the biggest incentive for running heroics is probably either the Justice Points, or the actual drop upgrades you get from the bosses.  At this stage in the game, those drops are pretty key to getting you ready for the first fiers of raid content.  Unfortunately the system isn't perfect, and it relies on people to make it work. 
At the base level, Need Before Greed (NBG) is set up so that (for the most part) once you're past level 55 or so, you can no longer roll Need on an item you cannot actually use.  This means that plate wearers can't roll on cloth or leather, paladins can't roll on daggers, etc.  This loot system isn't perfect though, and it's unfortunate.  Providing there's an enchanter of the appropriate level in your group, you have three options in the typical NBG setting. 
Need - This option is available if you can use an item, period.  Relic has agility on it and you're an elemental shaman?  Doesn't matter, it's open for you to roll on.  Awesome bow for the hunter in the group, but the tank needs some Stam?  It's his as much as it is yours.
Greed - I want to sell the item for money.  This is the default roll if there's no enchanter of the appropriate skill level in the group. 
DE - If there's an enchanter of the appropriate skill level in the group, you can choose to have the item DE'd automatically, and you just win the results of the DE.  This choice earned a lot of hate when it first came out, as enchanters felt that the group was profiting off their profession without their consent.  While I don't necessarily agree, I do think it's a nice option they've put in.
So that's it in a nutshell.  According to Blizzard's rules, after level 85 if the Need option shows up for you, you can choose to roll Need on it if you want.  You're not breaking any rules in the game, and the system is working as intended.
The horror story
Now many of us have been in a position like the one I'm about to describe.  Doesn't matter if you're a DPS, a Tank or a Healer - at some point this has probably happened to you.
You've queued for regular ToC, because quite frankly some of the best trinkets drop from there.  You've endured countless PUGs and wait time to get here, and you're all set to go.  You've queued as a Tank, because dammit that's what you do, and all you need is that Black Heart to drop and you can finally leave this place forever.  Lady Luck smiles on you that day, and when you open the chest at the end of the event there she lies.  YUSSSSS you type in chat, because you know that this is the end of a long and painful group of PUGs here, and you can finally start tanking some of the bigger instances. 
Then it happens.  The moment that you'd feared from the start.  Someone else hits Need for their offspec.  You cross your fingers and promise to eat all your vegitibles forever if only this item will drop itself into your bags.  As time ticks down you're busy sacrificing goats and preparing voodoo dolls to enact your vengence.  Final choices are made, and poof - your beloved trinket lands in the bags of some DK who doesn't know which end of the sword to hold, much less know how to tank. 
Depending on your level of rage, you might have your world go red.  You curse the SOB who decided to take YOUR loot.  Loot that was destined for you by the very Gods themselves.  You put the player on ignore, flame them on the forums, vow to never tank a PUG again, and then go reroll a warlock so you can at least be OP in PvP. 
The two sides of the same coin
Blizzard has stated more than once that this is exactly how the loot system is supposed to work, and that they don't intend to change it anytime soon.  Of course they said that about race changes, faction changes, xfers from PvE to PvP servers, and GC himself said they didn't plan to nerf Paladins before Wrath (suckers).  What this tells me is that everything is fluid, and this policy might change sometime in the future.  Of course Ed McMahon might show up at my door with 10 million dollars too (is that guy even still alive?). 
From what I can tell, the community is split into two main camps, with a few independents running around.  Kind of like Republicans vs Democrats.  On one hand you have the group that supports anyone rolling need, on any item, that is an upgrade for them in some way.  Main spec, off sepc, wanna play that some day so might as well get some loot for it spec.  It's the policy that Blizzard supports, and the Goblins out there do as well.  The justification is that everyone put the same ammount of effort into killing said boss - so why shouldn't they be able to profit from the encounter.
The other side clearly stands behind the Mainspec > Offspec (socially enforced) rule.  If you que as a healer, then you by and well better keep your hands off that DPS piece.  Same goes for tanks rolling on healer gear, DPS rolling on tank gear, etc.  If you want to roll on that kind of gear, then you should queue as that spec. 
I've seen this from all sides, be it the Tank bitching out the DPS for rolling on tank gear - or DPS doing the opposite.  Generally the tank will cite that they took the beating, the abuse, and spent the time gearing/leveling as a tank, so they should get priority.  The DPS claim that their queue is longer, and that the tank can just instaqueue again if they so choose.
This issue bothered me so much on Sunday, that I actually opened a ticket to have a ring xferred to some random tank from a PUG I ran.  I felt honest to goodness bad about having rolled need on a tank item, and had it sent to him.  Now - one could argue that I 'needed' it as much as he did, so that I could build a tank set - both to help me and help out my guild.  I'd spent just as much time wiping and such in the instance, and Blizzard obviously supports me on this one, so why shouldn't I roll on it?  The flip to that of course was that not only was the tank a genuinely decent guy (from what we could tell) he also wasn't a terrible tank. 
Now I'm not asking if I should or shouldn't have rolled on it in the first place, or if I should or shouldn't have kept it.  At this stage in the game, that's a decision that every player has to make for themselves.  Some might rank this worse than ganking a lowbie in PvP, or killing someone who's in the middle of questing.  Is it as bad as nabbing an ore/herb node from under the nose of someone who's clearly trying to clear a mob from on top of it?  What about nabbing a quest item spawn?
A solution
If you think the issue is currently broken, you might appreciate this solution.  My solution is to add a 4th button to the loot options - Need Offspec.  Since the gear is already separated by useability (plate, cloth, swords, etc), I don't think it would be overly difficult to add a flag that checks your current role in a group.  If you're flagged as a healer, you can't roll Need on an item that you can use, but that doesn't have INT on it (as an example), but you could instead roll 'Need Offspec'.  This roll would have priority over Greed/DE, but less so than Need.  It would allow you to have a realistic chance of nabbing the piece you would like, without upsetting the social rule of Mainspec > Offspec.  You could even go so far as to make Hit a trigger stat for DPS vs Healers.  Of course there's all kinds of arguments about why a DPS might not want yet MORE hit, but fortunately reforging helps to remove some of the issues with being excessively over the hit cap.
I certainly don't think that Offspec roles should have to roll Greed with everyone else, and in fact I hesitate calling them Mainspec and Offspec - it's more like Queued role and not-Queued role. 
Then again, this might be exactly how Blizzard wants the system to work.  The game is an MMO after all, and social interaction should play a part in it.  Asking "Mind if I need", or helping someone clear a node might be more polite, and might trigger some of those interactions that they're hoping for.  They may want to keep some of the free will associated with the game, and allow players some freedoms in how they will behave.  Yes you CAN do this, but do you really want to?  Depending on who you are, that might just be enough.  The Gevlon Goblins will probably say "up yours", take what they want and move on.  The more social players might play a little nicer.
Right now I don't know exactly where I stand on this issue.  I'd like to see the "Need Offspec" option implemented, but I'm sure it's more difficult than I imagine.  I'll probably have to go out and commit some heinous form of griefing and harassment tonight just to balance the nice part of me that sent back some gear - kind of like an atonement.  Trying to keep the pendulum in the middle
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this, as they regard to the system being either broken or working as intended - and if you think it's broken, how you think it could be improved.  If you want to bash me for what I did, that's fine as well, just don't get too carried away with the profanity.  This isn't Wombcrusher's blog after all. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The LFD Que and You

Sometime during the Wrath era Blizzard introduced a radical new idea to the game - the LFD queue.  I think this came out right when ICC did, but I'm not sure exactly.  Regardless, this tool was intended to help players everywhere find groups to run dungeons and heroics with.  Now instead of being limited to your guild, folks who were actually in /trade, or your immediate circle of friends - you could let the RNG do it for you, while you busied yourself with another task.  Tears of joy were shed by everyone, as the days of standing around in Dalaran looking for a tank, healer, or that last DPS were finally past us. 
Within moments the "LF Tank H UK" disappeared from /trade.  With the ability to queue for any specific dungeon, heroic, or a random dungeon (rewarding additional tokens/gold/etc), players simply didn't bother forming their own groups any more.  It wasn't long before players realized that even with a 3:1 space ratio, tanks and healers were still in short(ish) supply, and that DPS ques were significantly longer.  Tanks were able to charge a premium price for an instant queue - I've seen them go for 100g or more per person (20g was pretty standard fare).  As players began to significantly outgear instances, the AoE fests we all remember become AoE laugh fests.  Heroics were cleared in under 10min, and life was fairly good.  Even for a single DPSer, the wait would generally be no more than 20 minutes or so. 
The number of tanks and healers continued to rise as the expansion wore on, simply because it was the most efficient way to level an alt.  Want a druid alt for the no dismount herbalism perk?  Spec feral and laugh your way to 80.  Just rolled a brand new DK and hit the Outlands?  Spec frost and laugh your way to 80. 
The birth of a new era
With the launch of Cataclsym, and a whole new style of dungeons and heroics, the DPS queues have skyrocketed once again.  It's not uncommon for a single DPS to wait 30, 40, or even an hour for a queue to pop.  I always feel a little bad when I see the LFD pop up and one of the DPS misses hitting the accept button.  You know they probably fell asleep, or had to get up an feed the dog.  Come back, and poof - you're back at the beginning of the cycle.  What's worse for them is when they finally do get to the head of the line, they enter a dungeon 'in progress' and it's falling apart/ending as they get there.  Even if they don't get a LFD cooldown, they are still stuck waiting another half an hour for the next opening.
I imagine that a lot of this is stemming from a variety of factors.  First, the tanks and healers of progression guilds are back on their mains - and all the tank/healer alts are back on their DPS mains.  These groups are rocketing their way to the top, and generally are only grouping together, and not queuing individually.  Tanks and healers in this group generally have plenty of DPSers waiting to fill their groups, and it's players they can usually depend on to have a successful run. 
Second, we're about two weeks into the expansion.  Players who aren't blasting through the content but are instead taking their time are just now hitting the gear/level cap to even queue for heroics.  Since they are fewer in overall number, the queue times go up.  DPS who shot to 85 and reached the gear requirements are now sitting back waiting for them to catch up.
Third, the dungeons simply take longer to complete.  Even if the total number of tanks and healers is exactly the same now as it was one month ago, the dungeons just take more time to finish.  I don't know how long we're spending in the average heroic now, but I know it's long enough to get two or three Bloodlusts and Lay on Hands off.  This alone is enough to push the queue times up to thirty or forty minutes.  Just picking a number from the air, I'd say it takes about ten minutes per boss in any given instance.  This includes all the trash, the boss fight itself, and any pre fight chat.  This number might be a little low, but it's good for doing some quick math.  So an instance like TolVir where you have four bosses, you can probably expect it to take thirty to forty minutes if you don't have any wipes.
Fourth, there may very well be fewer tanks and healers in the general population than there were before.  I find this fairly difficult to believe, simply because every guild still needs the same number of each to fill their raid roles.  While there's no real call for 5 tanks in most 25 man raids, serious guilds will have their OT/DPS players who are helping get the raid ready through heroics.  This of course is a problem that has affected guilds since the beginning.  You need 1:1:3 for a regular dungeon, 2:2:6 for a 10 man, and 3:7:15 for a 25 man.  While these numbers may vary by one or two healers/tanks for specific encounters, the base is the same.  This leads to fewer tanks in that general pool, as those that aren't tanking are probably out doing things to help further their guild.
Finally, the LFD can be downright abusive.  Sometimes it's simply not worth the headaches to sit through a heroic, just to put up with a string of asshattery and idiocy.  There's still too much to do in the game for this to occupy my time.
The sense of entitlement
One key thing that I believe has escaped most players is that the LFD tool is exactly that, a tool.  It was designed to assist you with getting a group together, not provide you with the perfect group instantly.  The tool allows you to do something else while waiting for a heroic dungeon, instead of being the one person stuck in Dalaran while the other two DPS are out farming/grinding/etc.  It saves you the hassle of dealing with the player who asks for a summons to ICC, when they're all the way in Dalaran (it's soooo far away).  All of these things are benefits of the LFD tool, however there is a price to be paid for using the tool - you can't always get what you want right away.
I challenge anyone to be honest with themselves and think about those days before the LFD.  When you'd sit around hitting /trade "LF Tank H UK pst", or "2DPS LFG H DTK".  You kept a little pocket list of tanks and healers, and you'd always check at the very beginning.  You'd ask someone if you could put them on your friends list for future runs.  Or for those of us that tanked/healed, it was the "Tank LFG H DTK" and getting hit with 10 invites instantly (especially when they started the heroic daily dungeons). 
Fortunately, these tools are still available.  You can choose to use the LFD and take your chances, you can look for random members in /trade, or you can generate your own list of players on your realm.  You don't have to join a guild or become BFF with people just to group with them, it simply ups your chances.  While there's also the option of rerolling/speccing to heal or tank, I don't think you should have to play in a way you don't want to.  Unfortunately, this choice comes with a consequence - a longer queue in the LFD. 
Right or wrong - this is the way it is right now.  It's not going to change any time soon, and I don't really see it as a problem.  WoW is a MMO, it's designed to be played with other people.  While you can go through a large portion of the content solo, I don't think you should (nor can you) be able to complete everything in the game by yourself.  You have to find a group or guild to complete raid content, and I don't understand why the expectation is there that you don't have to do this with dungeons.  Cata has already gotten rid of the majority of group based quests to the best of my knowledge, I certainly didn't encounter any as I was leveling to 85. 
So while I'm not saying suck it up buttercup, I am saying that I believe it's working as intended.

First raid healing - Wyrmbreaker

So last Friday we rounded up the band and headed into the Bastion of Twilight.  No real prep or setup, just waltzed in and started working on the trash.  It wasn't too bad, and with a liberal use of CC we managed to get through it with minimal incident.  This is when we stepped into the grinder that was the Wyrmbreaker. 
Wrymbreaker Abilities
I'm still not entirely sure what all of his abilities are, but the fight breaks down like this.  Wyrmbreaker will beat on the tank with two to three buffs on him.  In addition, a proto-drake will breathe firey death on the raid, and can have a single buff on him.  These buffs are determined by the captured drakes that are 'active' when you enter the room.  Our first week had a cage of whelps (may or may not always be active), the Nether Scion, and the Storm Breaker.  One gave the boss an AoE shadow knockback ability, and the other increased his attack speed.  The whelps increase the damage done by the proto-drake's fire, to the point that it became unhealable.
What you have to do is release the drakes to reduce/eliminate the buffs dropped on the boss.  The drawback to this is that they are almost immediately mind controlled by the boss, so you have to tank/heal through their damage.  Fortunately the boss get's a debuff that increases his damage taken by 50% per drake released, so you have a shot at making that six minute enrage timer. 
Now, I don't know if we just happened to get the worst possible combination or not, but let me tell you - this was damn tough.  I 'think' we almost got one drake down, but by the time that happened the mana pools were running dry.  We were using a Holy Priest, Paladin, and Druid to heal - and we just didn't have the gas to get through it.  Part of this I'm sure is due to a lack of gear.  At the time of the encounter we had at least one member who couldn't qualify for a random heroic, and several others who were boosting stats with PvP gear.  We had to use an ele-shaman to focus the interrupts, and we're not an AoE heavy raid comp (Doomkin and..???).
I'm hoping we can get one night in this week, but being Christmas I'm not holding out a lot of hope.  A few gear upgrades might see us through, and we should have some more flasks and such created for this week.  What I know for sure is that we certainly didn't walk in and roflstomp the boss - and that was a good thing.  I'm looking forward to content that is challenging for more than a week. 

That was a dick move

Last Sunday I did something that I wasn't really proud of.  I justified the action in my head, and had given myself every reason why it was perfectly acceptable. At the end though, it was without a doubt, the move of a complete jerk.  Even if I gave myself an additional out of saying I had just spent too long at the computer that weekend, it just wasn't right.
Fortunately, we the GMs who service the game can pull a lot of information out of their databases.  All I had was a time and a location, nothing else, and Blizzard was able to at least take a step towards making the wrong right.  I didn't even have to log into the game to do it, just send in an email, and 12 hours later I got a response letting me know it was taken care of.  Fortunately what I did technically didn't violate any rules, so at least I have that going for me.  And maybe, just maybe, someone felt a little better when the loaded up their mail last night. 
What's the moral of this story?  I don't know that I really have one, other than it's a good idea to take a break once in a while during the day, and that the GMs do a damn fine job of helping out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Week 2 wrap-up

So a little after one week from the release of Cata, and we're heading in for our first raid.  I don't know which one we're doing, though I'm assuming we'll be going after Wyrmbreaker and perhaps Tol'Barad.  I honestly don't even know what raids are available right now.  This is a little different than my traditional stance, where I try and know everything before I step into the instance.  I've really enjoyed seeing the bosses fresh, without having seen videos and writeups before hand. It is really nice when the tanks know though, so they can prepare me for some big AoE or heavy spike damage. 
Dealing with the Holy Power change
To be honest, I haven't really felt the hit on this.  I guess I wasn't really abusing the Light of Dawn AoE as much as I thought, becuase I didn't really notice a change.  Yes, it's tougher to have the three charges available whenever I want them, and there are certainly times when it would have been nice to have even the reduced LoD available.  What this has forced me to do however is to play a bit more as Blizzard intended, and to use more than just two or three spells for the fight duration.  I find myself thinking three or five heals ahead, trying to line up my AoE's effectively, and making sure I use my procs efficiently. 
Running Heroics
To date I've only done a few of the instances on Heroic mode, but I've really found them enjoyable.  Shadowfang Keep was a reall buster, especially the first boss fight.  Making sure I had three HP stored up to help recover after the Strangulate, timing Judgements, etc.  I even got to do a bit of CC using a glyphed Turn Evil during the Commander fight.  This is a component that I think a lot of healers miss out on.  Just because my primary responsibility is healing, doesn't mean that I can't contribute to the overall encounter.  Even if it's something as simple as using my Arcane Torrent as an interrupt, or changing a glyph so I have an instant cast fear.  These things combine to make the overall healing easier.  By using my own CC, the DPS can focus on killing their target, and the group takes less damage overall. 
I have had a few PUG mishaps with heroics.  Such as zoning into H:Vortex and having no lock, no shaman, no hunter, and no Ret pally.  So our CC vs the elementals was virtually zero, and our tank was folded before we even got out of the gate.  This was an instnace where I just didn't have the horses to pull him through the damage being done, even by shifting into high gear.  I wound up getting blamed for letting the tank die, and I just zoned out to work on my mining for a while.  I don't mind working hard every pull to make sure the tank stays up, but there's a limit to the abuse I'll take for it. 
On mining
Being able to fly in the old world certainly makes leveling this beast better, along with the extra skillups you get from smelting the ore.  The XP is just an added bonus that I'm sure I'll really appreciate once I get back to herbing/mining Cata level nodes, since my Warlock is now my primary gatherer instead of my main.  /sadface  I have to level my Engineering though, because those goggles are just damned sexy.  I will probably have to break down and spend the JPs on a new helmet though, simply because I haven't gotten lucky with any drops.  Oh, and being able to track herbs AND nodes at the same time?  Absoloutely wonderful.
Mastery, Val'anyr, and reforging
I still haven't reforged any of my gear.  At this stage I'm not entirely sure what stats I like and which ones I can drop.  Spirit is delicious, and I'm trying to find the break between Haste and Crit.  Obviously the advantage of Crit is that your overall HpM goes up, providing you get any crits in there.  It's tough to break away from the mentality that I need to be rolling Holy Lights, and if I have enough Spirit and Crit, a single large spell should do the trick.  Of course without enough haste it may not get there in time, but that's why we have 100k+ health pools.  I'm also fairly in love with our Mastery the more I run.  It's the reason I still use my Val'anyr, and knowing that 25% of the heals I land while the buff is up become shields is really nice.
I'm still not 100% certain on the HOW of our Mastery though.  With the Val'anyr, the shields will stack until you reach 200k in shields, and you don't lose any of the shielding ability.  To the best of my knowledge however, our Mastery doesn't stack, instead it refreshes.  What I mean by this is say you cast a 20k heal on your target.  As a base, you wil get a 10% shield (2k) that lasts for 8 sec.  Now assuming that doesn't get instantly wiped out, but say, only 1500 of it goes away, your next heal will refresh that shield back up to 2k.  The exception to this is if your heal is larger than 20k, which would then give you a larger base shield to refresh off of.  Once the shield falls off (through time or damage), you start over again. 
The best analogy I read about this was if you think of the heal as a bucket, you can always refill the bucket, but the bucket can only get bigger, not smaller.  While this isn't as impressive with 12k Holy Light hits now, as our spell power and crit go up, and our overall mastery rating - these shields should get fairly substantial.  Granted it takes about 180 points in mastery to raise it up enough to get another 1.25% in shields, but it's something worth playing with I think.  The issue now is that even if I reforged all my gear with say, haste, I'd only pick up about 3 full points in master - giving me close to 14% in shields instead of 10%.  I'll have to do some more math to determine if the percentage of shield increase is worth the cost, or if it is instead better to have a higher crit/haste percentage and count on your spellpower to make the shields grow.  More math will follow, though I have a gut feeling on this.  Hopefully I can get some logs in our upcoming raids and dungeons to help work this out.  I'd be interesting to see what kind of numbers we see.
While I have managed to pick up a decent BoE caster sword, I'm still sticking with my legendary from two (three?) tiers of content.  I did the same with my Thunderfury back in BC, the proc was just too good to give up.  I imagine that we'll see a similar round of nerfs hit the Val'anyr in the near future.  Of course I might just stumble on something so tasty that I can't pass it up.  The upside of this is I feel comfortable passing on any caster maces that might drop for the druids/shaman/priest in our group.  I did a quick WoWhead search and came up with one epic caster sword, and one blue caster sword (from Heroic dungeons).  There are two 359 (epic) caster maces, one 346 from rep, one from blacksmithing, and two from heroic 5 mans. 
For my fellow casters there are about the same number of daggers as there are maces, with a comprable number of shields (though most of them are PvP related).  Fortunately I can go straight to 359 with a crafted healing shield, even if I am going to pay out the nose for it.  I'd rather that than use some funkified off hand that would be better served in the hands of another caster.
Wrap up
This post has been worked on for most of the day now, so I'll wrap up with a goal of having some raid numbers on absorbs and mana usage - and hopefully a nice screenshot or two of some raid kills.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I apologize for the nerf

As many of you are already painfully aware, Blizzard implemented a stealth hotfix to Paladin healing earlier today.  I say stealth nerf, because it was implemented on the server side, and wasn't included in the hotfix notes.  It was a hotfix, because the tooltips weren't changed (clientside), and tooltips have to be done in all the languages that Blizzard supports.  Neth didn't come forth with all the specifics of the changes, but here's the long and the short of the situation.  It also seems that this hotfix went into play in the middle of some folks runs, as a hotfix is wont to do.  Imagine being in the middle of a raid, and suddenly the mechanic you're depending on doesn't work any more.  Sry:(
Some Paladins (and I'm not naming names), were using the Tower of Radience mechanics to simply spam Holy Light on the beaconed target, and then get a 3 HP Light of Dawn AoE on the raid.  Now, while this wasn't a huge issue in and of itself, the problem was that Beacon of Light was transferring all of the LoD healing to the beaconed target.  Since BoL still counts overhealing, this was resulting in some fairly large healing being done, for little to no mana cost.  Continued use of this mechanic would quickly see Paladins stacking Haste and SP again, with no regard for regeneration or crt.  This simply bypasses the intended mechanic that we use multiple spells and have to make a choice when healing. 
While this mechanic may not be as viable in 5 mans, in a raid situation you can see where this would quickly get out of hand.  During my first (and only so far) heroic 5 man, I regularly found myself charging my HP using this method, instead of worrying about a cool down on Holy Shock, or the more mana intensive spells.  While I haven't had an opportunity to play since the fix was implemented, I am sure it will have an effect on my healing.  I was counting on the free heals generated by my Holy Power, not because they were free, but because they were instant. 
My proposed fix
I think Blizzard knee jerked too hard on this.  Not only did they reduce the healing done by WoG, they reduced the healing done by LoD and (more importantly) removed the generation of Holy Power from ToR.  While this will fix the problem, I think just removing the transfer of healing from our AoE heals would be enough.  Anyone who's ever looked at a log report has seen multiple BoL healing lines, because each heal has its own corresponding spell code for BoL.  By removing this aspect of the spell, you reduce the impact of free HP from ToR.  Then after a week or so, you can dial it down again if you need to.  I'd rather have three small nerfs trying to reach the goal, than one giant one that shoots past it.
In the end though, I don't think it will be a make/break for the class.  Paladins will adjust to the change, and continue onward.  I imagine that only a small percentage of Healadins were actually in heroic/raid content, the area where this really matters.  I do so enjoy reading the QQ and the flames though.  I will confess that while the healing was stressful in the 5man I did, it was really a lot of fun again.  I was having to make decions about who to heal and when, and I actually had to watch my mana bar.  DP is still fairly broken imo, but it's what we have, and judgement's are still a good source of mana return. 
And hey, at least we're not praying for enough HP to up our DPS and keep our mastery fed like our Ret brothers are.  Talk about a hit to DPS if you miss that narrow buff window.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Back to 80

So my foray into the world of the dark arts lasted about 4 days. Today I got word that our 2nd healer wasn't going to be able to dedicate the time we require to be able to raid with us. This left us with a couple of choices.

  1. Me to dump my lock and go back to the Paladin. This costs us the INT buff from the Felhound, but lets us make use of Spell Plate, and gives the priest full shot at cloth drops. This also lets Monger stay on his ele shaman, but be a backup healer.
  2. Monger goes Resto Shaman, I stay Lock. This puts Grievus (our spriest) in the position of being a 3rd healer. Not a role he's really comfortable with or enjoys.
  3. Stay lock and recruit another healer. Since we're now at an 11 man roster, this is our least favored option. None of us want to sit, and we're already one over the cap.

So, this morning I cleared out my bags, learned the new flying, and tonight I'll be churning through Hyjal to push towards 85. Like Kurn, at least now I have rested XP to work off of, plus we have the 5% bonus from the lvl 2 guild rewards. Another plus is no more 35min ques for randoms - hello instant ques!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just call me Hansel

I'm fully expecting to be captured and caged up by an evil witch the next time I step into Vashj'ir. Somewhere along the way I lost the breadcrumbs (or missed a quest), so I'm now stuck. I'm sitting at only about 60 quests completed so I know there's a ton left to do, but hell if I can figure out where to go.

I ran into a similar problem in Hyjal this morning, and just happened to stumble onto a crazy druid who had me throwing bear cubs out of a tree. He then pointed me down the road to another quest hub, so I'm pretty excited about that. Throwing the cubs out of the tree was pretty funny - my question was why didn't I just cut it down? I mean, I've got this giant demon standing here with an Arcanite Reaper, and he's got nothing better to do. Instead I'm shimmying up the tree like a friggin monkey, grabbing bear cubs and tossing them onto a trampoline.

OK, I 'may' have thrown the first one into Felwood. I also may have thrown one over to Ragnaros's area. It's also entirely possible that I threw one to Org, because I know Garrosh could use a new vanity pet.

The Point

The point of this story is that I've managed to get lost in both of the new zones, and instead I just kind of fumble around until I land on some quests. It's not my preferred method, as I like to grind through each zone doing every quest. I've found that the XP gains are huge this way, and you can make Texa$ sized piles of cash doing it. 25g for a green quest reward? I'll take two if you have them.

Here's hoping I can keep from getting lost in the future. Now I just have to find the entrance to the new dungeons. Stupid LFD....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 0 - initial thoughts and impressions

So the launch went so much smoother than I had expected. There was about 10 minutes where some of us had issues logging in, and of course there was some lag, but the servers were remarkably stable for the launch. There was the usual idiocy surrounding the flight trainer and such, but after about 10 minutes of that nonsense I was able to grab my training and start my Cata experience.

Flying in the old world

This is just too cool for school. Our plan was to run Blackrock Caverns (BRC?) to start, giving the starting quest hubs a chance to thin out. It had also been our experience that even if the world servers were crashing, instance servers 'should' be a bit more stable. After grabbing the portal to the Blasted Lands, it was time to explore the zones from the air while heading over.

Truly awesome to see it that way, and definately worth the gold cost.

The first run

The first run went about like I expected. We timidly put our toes in the water to see if the dungeons were going to be really hard like we were led to believe, or if it was going to be /faceroll 2.0. With each pack we'd grow a little bolder, expecting death to strike at any point. Our tank had read up on the bosses, so we had an idea of what to expect - though it wasn't anywhere close to being difficult. We wiped once on some molten quicksilver boss, but I'm pretty sure that was because the tank had some conflag stacks on him from the elemental, and it was a bad pull.

After the initial run, it was Johnny bar the door, and we were gone. Two runs and the associated quests got me 57% of the way to 81, and I pushed that over this morning with two more speed runs (full tilt boogie, AoE all the way) and the breadcrumb quests to Vashir(sp). I heard things slow down a bit after 81, but I'm not sure. The drops were pretty decent, and I replaced some of my 251 gear with green BoE drops.

The first zone

I went to Vash'ir or whatever it's called, but left after the initial breadcrumbs. There's still a lot of people in the area, and I'm not rushing to 85. I was pretty impressed with the dialoge and such though, and I have decent hopes for the rest of the expansion content.

My hopes

I'm still holding out hope for difficult heroics and raids, but I'm not going to hold my breath. We'll have to see how it goes in the upcoming weeks, and I'm surprised that we haven't seen world first 85s already given the speed we were moving at.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day before Cata

Like everyone else, I'm waiting for the servers to go 'live' with the expansion. I use that phrase loosely, because I fully expect there to be crashes and issues. I really can't imagine running around Azeroth at 12:00, and having new quests and zones suddenly pop up at 12:01. At the very least I'm expecting some rolling restarts, though I'm truly anticipating some massive server failures and downtime.

I haven't really done much to prepare for Cata either. Since I plan on leveling my warlock first, I emptied out his bags, cleared the quest log, and logged out near the flight trainer in Org. I'm still not 100% sure on how to even get to the new starting areas. I expect I'll find some breadcrumb quests to point me on my way, and if not I'll just kind of follow the masses like I did in Wrath. Hopefully I don't spend 20 minutes standing at the wrong dock though.

My tailoring is at 436 or so, and I'm hoping that there will be some bootstrap patterns that won't require me to go back to Norhtrend to farm giant piles of Frostweave. My herbalism is maxed, my bandage skill is close enough, and my cooking finally hit 450 as well. I might spend an hour getting another few fishing points, but oh lawd is that boring.

My Paladin is also fairly set. She's in her tank gear and spec, ready to prot her way through the content if our second healer option falls through. I'll likely grind to 85 with a mix of Prot and Holy setups, but this is really my second option. I'm really looking forward to an expansion where the sum of my responsibility is "don't stand in the fire and don't let the DoTs fall off".

I've accepted that this means I'll have slower dungeon ques, and won't be able to just walk into any PUG run. I'm OK with that. I've healed PUG tanks, and tanked for PUG DPS. Here's a healthstone and a summoning portal - now leave me alone.

Here's hoping that Cataclsym lives up to at least some of the hype.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Traveling to the dark side

The Shattering is upon us, and Cataclysm looms around the corner, and the band is getting back together again. Currently we've named ourselves , because when we hopped servers a bunch of us went with Punchout style names. Pistonhondo was my name, but Piston hasn't seen much love lately.

While I know that things are still changing, and that the game isn't tuned for 80 but for 85, I have to confess that I have found the changes to the Paladin healing game to be fairly disappointing. While I think that they have done some good things for the class, and it's certainly changed from the FoL/HL spam we had, it just doesn't feel right. Our heals are still powerful, and our soloing DPS is better, but it's just not the same class.

I'm not alone in this, as our resident priest and my healing partner has also found his Priest class changes to be a bit too much for him, and he doesn't really like the way the class plays now. While a lot of this may be a "Who moved my cheese" type reaction, this is certainly a more radical change than we've ever seen in the past.

Grabbing a new insturment

So with the band getting back for Cata, it was time to evaluate the members. Our core group is still the same, and we may even be getting a Priest from way back (like, Vanilla days) to help fill it out. With this, our entire healing core is changing, and Monger and I are heading down the road of DPS. Monger is changing to his tried and trusted Ele-Shaman, but I went to something wildly differet.

A Warlock.

Let me know when you've closed your mouth and refocused.


Apparantly I fail at remembering how to Blog, as I lost the second half of this post. So here's the short version.

I'm playing a lock now.

Tanking and Healing aren't falling off the radar, so I'll be keeping up to speed on those.

Skelroon is my retarded Felgaurd, more on him later.

The loss of portals is awesome

Monday, October 4, 2010

Release Date Announced - And we're back

If you can believe the folks at (formerly etc), and the folks at Blizzard themselves, Cataclsym is set to launch on Dec. 7th. Is it coincedence that Blizzard chose to release this on the anniversary of yet another cataclysmic event, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor? Probably. I'm sure that if that Tuesday happened to be the 5th or 3rd the release would still be the same. Put on your tinfoil hats though, because I'm sure the conspiracy theorists will have some fun with this one.

Personally, I was betting on the 9th or the 16th of November for the release - just enough time for folks to get home from Blizzcon, and far enough in advance that you can have it going full tilt boogie by the Thanksgiving weekend. Holding off until December doesn't surprise me though, since it will instead allow them to roll out 4.0.1 or whatever it is to the live servers around that time, giving them a month of good live testing before the xpac actually goes live.

The changes

Since I'm not currently in the Beta, hell my account isn't even active right now, I really can't speak to the changes that we're going to see in the game. Most of what I've read seems promising though, and I'm going to activate my account once the new talents and such go live. I'm going to feel really dumb if it's already live, but I haven't seen the huge explosion indicating that it is yet.

From what I've seen, there is going to be a major shift in the way that we do things. In the end though, our job is still pretty basic. Make the green bars go up, make the red bars go down, and keep the big nasty from eating the squishy folks. The tools we use to do these jobs are changing, but most of us will be right back in the swing of things fairly quickly.

Upcoming posts

Look for regular posts from now until I retire from Cataclsym. The next few weeks will contain more Starcraft 2 and BC2 than you're probably looking for, as well as some stories about my fiancee's cooking (yes, it's amazing) and a new dishwasher.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Holding pattern commencing

Right now I'm in an indefinite hold with WoW. I'm not in the Beta, and I'm not planning on it at all. My account is canceled until Cata, since the 2 or 3 months of savings will cover my game cost. In the meantime I'm keeping tabs on the big changes, since I expect that the fine tuning will start fairly soon. I'll probably hop back in when the pre-Cata event starts, though we'll have to see.

I'm still sucking it up in SC:2 - though I'm winding down in practice games. I'll have to break down and do my five ranking matches soon though, so I'm really working on mastering the Zerg macro. I'll probably spend my last 15 games learning the Protoss, just so I have a decent idea of how they play. I have no illusions about landing high in the ladder rankings, but I really enjoy the game.

I'll be chiming in when I see something that piques my interest in the blogsphere, but it'll be fairly quiet here until Cata.

See you then.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's all about the company you keep

So my WoW time has pretty much shut down completely at this point. I've been doing some AHing and what not, only because it's something I can semi-automate while I'm doing work around the house. I've been slowly increasing my bank book by crafting bags - a 5g purchase of Netherweave gets me 11g when I make it into a bag. Not too shabby.

It seems fairly pointless though. I've got around 50k between my toons, everyone has all the flying they'll need, and I'm just waiting on Cata. None of my friends are playing much (if at all) right now, so there's really nobody that I'd be hanging out with. The prospect of running more LFD randoms, or even ICC pugs just makes me want to vomit. The question is, why?

There are certainly a few fights that I haven't completed in Wrath. Yogg +0, Algalon 25, HLK 10/25, and H Halion. I haven't seen a Shadowmourne completed either (or killed LK with one in the raid), but at this point, I'm willing to call it a wash. I feel like I've seen everything that this expansion has to offer, and I don't think I need to push for the final kills.

Doing something different

Right now I'm in the middle of playing SC2 and BC2, and I've discovered something pretty significant. While I enjoy playing SC2, I'm pretty much just doing 1v1s right now. My original SC partner is in Iraq, and I haven't made the effort to find another 2s or 3s partner. Plus, I'm still learning the game - so I'm probably pretty bad.

Of course, I'm not that great at BC2 either. My video card leaves something to be desired, and I'm not as twitchy as I was when I was 22 and playing in UT tournaments. I play mostly online Rush games, and the experience is pretty good There are times though, when it's exceptional.

The co-op play

Several of my raid mates from are playing BC2 with me (or me with them I guess). When there's more than just one of us, even if we're losing or are forced to opposing teams, the fun factor goes up by a power of 10. Being able to joke and pal around with the same people that I've been raiding with for years is definitely the big plus for me.

That, and having a squad mate do a suicide rush so he can dart someone's medic - opening up a guided RPG on his head :)

I've certainly found that I enjoy the team play over the solo play. This certainly plays heavily into my lack of WoWing at the moment. Plus, how much gear will I really need to start Cataclsym?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

OT - Getting through the feedreader

I have a confession to make - I'm a skimmer of blogs, not a full reader. Right now I have about a thousand unread blog posts in my reader, although to be fair this counts Engadget, Bluetracker, and Elitist Jerks. By the time I knock those down, I'll be sitting around 700 or so - and this is after knocking them off a few days ago.

Because I have all these blog posts, from bloggers that I try and read, I have to be fairly selective in what I spend my time on. Any blog that doesn't give me full access in a reader is automatically off my list, since I generally won't bother to click through to read it. If the opening lines are interesting enough to keep me going, I don't want to be hassled with not being able to read it right away.

I also generally don't bother with fanfiction or RP stories. I'm sure some of them are quite good, but I just prefer to read my fiction on paper. Also, they're generally just small segments, and it's tough (for me) to keep several stories straight at one time. Maybe if I could get them all in one batch - something to think about.

Goodbye posts, Cataclysm posts, and most DPS theorycrafting also go by the wayside. Tanking and healing math will almost always sucker me in though. My DPS interest only exists to feed my knowledge of the rest of the classes. It's good to know what everyone can do in your raid, as well as in PvP.

Even with speeding through those types of posts, there's still a lot left to get through. It's great that the blogging community is so active, but man - ya'll make it difficult when someone takes a week or so off.

Back to the reading.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If you forget your coat, it's going to rain

I love vacation. There's nothing like stepping away from it all and completely recharging. It also doesn't hurt when you leave an area that is now hitting its 31st (maybe 32nd) consecutive day of rain, for someplace where it's warm and sunny. Oh, and there were also some amazing wineries. I think I brought home a little over a case of wine, stuff that I just can't get at home.

Since I was going to WA, I made sure to bring my rain jacket, after all, Washington gets a lot of rain (especially on the Western side). I bugged my fiancee about it until she relented and packed not one, but TWO coats. Just to be a pill I suppose.

Of course since we packed our jackets, we stepped into a heat wave down there. I don't think it rained at all during the day, and very little even at night. It was actually colder in AK when we touched down than it was at 4AM in Seattle. I think winter is already here.

Lots of blogs to catch up on, but it looks like the Beta is starting to settle down some. I'm still hoping for that 2010 release, but for now I've got SC2 to catch up on, and Bad Company 2 as well. Good lord do I hate snipers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Holiday time

Heading out on holiday until the 16th, so posts will be sporadic if at all.

See ya'll when I get back.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mana while tanking - it shouldn't be a problem

A day or so ago, Ambrosine over at I Like Bubbles posted about a PUG Paladin tank who asked her to stop putting her PW:S on him. Khraden over at Illumination touched on the same subject, and did a great job of explaining how you can keep your mana up even through some bubbles. I'm going to expand on that just a little, and toss in some math for you egg heads that keep coming around.

Spiritual Attunement

This is the biggest criminal in the existing mindset that Paladin tanks shouldn't be hit with a PW:S. The short version is that SA will return 5/10% of the amount healed as mana - so if they are healed for 10,000 in one shot, they'll pick up 1,000 mana. When an ICC geared Pally tank has around 5,500 mana (unbuffed), this is a sizable chunk of their mana pool. Because of the incredible amounts of damage that get dished out in the end game (heck, the trash in some heroics for at level geared tanks), most Protadins only take 1/2 in SA - meaning they only get 5% of the amount healed as mana.

Normally, this isn't an issue. When a tank is constantly being bombarded with heals to counteract the 20k shot they just took, they will accumulate mana regen very quickly. In the lower dungeons, especially where you might have an ICC geared Disc Priest healing a blue/green geared Protadin - this can become more of an issue.

A fully buffed ICC Priest will probably be sporting around 5k SP (probably less - but this number works for now). A Disc Priest with 5k SP will drop a PW:S that absorbs just over 10k - and they can do this every 15 seconds. Since this spell is one of their most efficient heals (you don't have to heal anything if there's no damage), getting them to not cast this on you will be nigh on to impossible. Heck, some of them will probably break down into fits if they even try.

So, if you're not taking any damage - how are you going to keep your tanking mana bar up, without stopping and having the "gogogogogo" DPS yelling in your ear?

Blessing of Sanctuary

Your first line of defense against the dreaded OOM, this blessing now bestows 10% Str and Stam (so you don't miss Kings), and will return 2% of your maximum mana - every time you block, parry, or dodge. Just popping Holy Shield on CD should push your block up high enough to keep this baby providing mana non-stop. If you can generate the threat (because obviously your healer is powerful enough to handle it), grab two sets of mobs to keep this going non stop.

Just make sure they're actually awake, and that your DPS isn't raining AoE on the area the new mobs will be running.

Don't be afraid to pick up trinkets that modify either of those stats. Not only is it adding avoidance, you're also adding mana regen!

Seal of Wisdom

While I know it's tough to use anything besides SoComm or SoC(V), given that all the DPS are yelling "gogogo" or pulling for you, remember that SoW will restore (chance) 4% of your max mana on each hit. Now, while this can take a while if you're autoattacking with a 2.6 mace, don't forget three important facts.

1) HotR can proc your current seal on each hit. This means that even un-glyphed, you'll have 3 chances every 9 seconds or so, to generate a ton of mana.

2) SoR can also proc your current seal now. That's both of your 6 abilities in the 969 being able to proc this mana regenerating star.

3) Your judgement can also proc your current seal - so now you have (assuming you use HotR, Judge, SoR) 5 chances of mana return in just 3 GCDs. Not too shabby.

Divine Plea

Forgetting for the moment that a glyphed DP will reduce your total damage intake by 3%, DP is one of those buffs that you should never let fall off. Returning 25% of your total mana every 15 seconds, just keeping this buff active should be more than enough to cover your currently bubbled butt. Properly talented, this effect will have a 100% uptime during a fight - and there's no reason to let it fall off. As mentioned above, if your healer's SP is high enough that their bubbles aren't being broken by trash, it's probably safe to assume that you can chain pull with abandon.

A note about Chain Pulling

Real quick - there's Chain Pulling, and then there's Idiotic Pulling. In short, Chain Pulling means you're moving from one group to the next, generally without ever dropping combat. It's generally fine to move to the next group when the last mob of the previous one is getting low on health. Just remember to check your healer's mana - or they may just let you die.

Idiotic Pulling is when you grab the entire hallway in UK - when you're a lvl 70 tank with a lvl 70 healer. Don't do it.

Judgement of Wisdom

This staple should probably be up with BoSan, but it's not really important. What is important is that you're judging this bad boy every 9 seconds. First, it can proc your seal, so if you're running SoW, that's another big chunk of mana back. Second, hitting any target that has been affected with JoW has a chance to return 2% of your base mana. While it's not a 100% proc, it is fairly high.


In short, asking your healer to NOT use their most mana efficient heal, is like asking a DPSer to not use their max ranked spells. With all the tools available to Protadins today, there's no reason that you can't find a happy mix between DP uptime, speed, and DPS. Even if you have to stop and drink now and again - this shouldn't be a problem. Twist your SoW and SoComm as necessary, always use JoW, and keep DP up.

And as the other bloggers mentioned, you can always tank without pants.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

SC - Different types of attacks - mix it up a little

First 0ff - the SC2 game is amazing. I haven't done any games yet, but the storyline is really great. I like the changes they made to the briefing room, but I will concede that it's just another RTS. If you liked the original, you'll probably like SC2. If you hate RTS games, this isn't going to suddenly make you a convert.

Oh, and there ARE Firebats in the single person, which made me a happy panda. I don't mind them not being in the multi-player since that isn't my focus. It's almost like an ability is available for PvE but not in PvP. What a twist!

On to the real issue - combat tactics

Now, I'm no master of Starcraft tactics - especially when placed against another human opponent. Much like all video game to RL conversions, certain things just don't mix. For example, I've cleared rooms and rescued hostages in real life scenarios (training mind you) - but I suck at Counter Strike.

Regardless, in combat scenarios there are a few generally accepted methods of winning any battle.

Surgical strikes

This is a tactic that is widely used by the US military, that unfortunately isn't as effective as it could be. What I'm talking about here is the sniper kill, or in Starcraft - the surgical nuclear strike. Now while I've never been overly successful with a nuke strike in SC, it is a great tactic. In the game it's extremely expensive, and it takes so long to land that an alert opponent can usually flush your Ghost out.

If you can pull it off though, a surgical strike can be a devastating, or even crippling move. It's not even necessary to kill off troops or even important building structures. Somtimes it's enough to just conduct...

The spoiling attack

This is the strike that will be most likely to drive your opponent to hair pulling frustration. Spoiling attacks aren't designed for a high level of destruction, or even actual destruction. What you're looking to accomplish is to simply throw off your opponents timing or momentum. Take out all of an opponents worker bees, and suddenly he can't afford to build troops. Resources that would be spent arming his forces are instead spent trying to get back to his original level of production.

These attacks can also stall your opponent, as they have to adjust mentally to the change in their plans. While this won't throw off a master strategist (they're already four moves ahead of you), it will work wonders against that one-trick pony player who's been beating you.

Don't focus on full destruction though. These attacks are the bread and butter of the guerrilla warrior. In, out, gone. You don't want to get your own troops caught in the firefight, so fast moving troops are generally better suited (or an airdrop). Remember, this attack isn't intended to dislodge them completely from an area. Instead you want to force them to spend more resources on a secondary target. Of course, this is all in an effort to set them up for

The 2x4 between the eyes

This isn't a zerg swarm, a marine rush, or any other type of fast attack. This is the sound of a dozen siege tanks opening up at once, eight Yamoto-guns (are these in SC:2?), or a full swarm of Valks on your air force. This attack makes Pearl Harbor look like a field trip to the petting zoo. It is the culmination of your forces, bearing down on that weakest point.

Forget Waterloo, Troy, or the Battle of the Bulge - this is Hiroshima and Nagasaki rolled into one giant attack. This single assault can be conducted by an overwhelming force or a significantly powerful one, will push your opponent to the wall. Where you hopefully have someone hiding to whack him in the kneecaps.

Personally, I like to use a two or three pronged assault if I can - especially if I have a partner I can coordinate them with. When your opponent is responding to an assault on multiple fronts, you can split them open like a ripe melon. WWII would have turned out a lot different if Hitler hadn't opened up a third front (Africa, Europe, Asia) with Russia, as he would have been able to throw a significantly larger force of troops against the Allies in Europe.

In the end

You just need to mix up your attacks. Stay fluid. I personally like to reference a jellyfish here. You need to be mobile enough to respond to any change in pressure from your opponent, while still fielding attacks of your own. Never let the enemy work unhindered. Even sending small units in to harass and confuse will take his attention away from the main task - obliterating you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I can't wait to get home. I'm sorry, but SC:2 is sitting on my computer RIGHT NOW, just waiting for me to get home. Yeah, my priest hit 77, but she's sitting right there until Jim Raynor and I can spend some quality time together.

How I know my fiancee loves me

I may have forced her to watch the SC:2 trailers 100 times with me. While she apprecitates the graphics and the quality - she's not a gamer. Here's the thing though. She knows it is released today. She saw me download it yesterday, and set everything up for tonight. So what does she do? She puts together a dinner for me in the fridge (this is actually normal for raid nights), and then she makes plans to go over to her friend's house. For about five hours.

That's right. The starting night of SC:2 will be me, Jim, and Tychus - with a little Kerrigan thrown in so it's not a complete man fest. While there's no Firebats (damn you Blizzard), I'm really looking forward to the updated graphics offered. I still like playing the original game, and I'm pretty sure my Droid phone has more than enough processing power to run it. I've purposefully stayed away from any actual gameplay footage, just because I want the first night to be special.

I was called old

Talking with W-Crusher the other day, he made a comment that he's not really excited about seeing Raynor is a Marine outfit. He's "old" he said. So I did some math, checked with a timeline, and concluded that Raynor is probably around 36 or so. Since I'll be 34 in a few weeks, I don't consider anything South of 40 to be old. I also mentioned that playing SC on the wasn't anything I ever really got into. I always enjoyed the single player campaigns, or just doing co-op against the AI. And yes, it's because I hate getting stomped by the good players - and/or the Korean Zerg rush.

W-Crusher: That sounds like something an old man would do. Raynor.

I cried a little. On the inside.

What I'd love to see

I really wanted a 24 style clock, the one that makes the loud noise in the show as it counts the seconds, to do my countdown for me in game. I'd also like to see Jack Bauer running from a bunker yelling "ZERG!". Or maybe instead of the "Nuclear launch detected" you get to see Jack run out of the Command Center throttling a Ghost "Where's the bomb!".

Maybe I just have an unhealthy love for 24.

If it fails to deliver

I really don't think it will, but if SC:2 fails to deliver, I'm looking at Bad Company 2. Several of the folks are playing it now as they wait for Cata. That might work out well. I haven't played a real FPS in a while. I suppose you could consider Mass Effect a FPS, but it's more of a FPS-RPG. I'm talking a no holds barred, log in and shoot someone in the face with a machine gun, type FPS.

I hear it helps with stress.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Starcraft II: Heaven's Devils - Book Review

John over at the BBB sent me a copy of Heaven's Devils a few weeks (months?) ago, and after reading through it (and seeing him review it), I thought I'd share my own thoughts. It doesn't hurt that I'm also struggling with an RP post and some Priest musings. I've shipped the book off to my Battle Buddy in Iraq, and I'll update this with his thoughts once he gets through it. Of course this means I don't have the book in front of me to reference for the review, but that's why we have the internet.

A one sentence review

It's worth reading, but it's not Warhammer 40k.

What it is

Heaven's Devils is a great military sci-fi book. It fits into the Starcraft universe nicely, and I can certainly picture the characters in my mind. Of course it helps that Blizzard has provided us with an image for Tychus and Raynor already in some of their video footage, but I think the book can certainly stand on its own. The Starcraft universe is certainly large enough (and actually much larger than I thought) to support a book without having to add in a ton of history and backstory.

A smooth plotline, and a clear direction, lends to a fairly simple read. It was a lot like Arthas or any of the other Blizzard IP books - fairly clear to read, without being over the top.

Unfortunately, this was my main problem with the book.

What it isn't

It isn't gritty, dark, or even remotely leaning in those directions. Without giving the book away, let's just say that there are some moments where our merry band of heroes find themselves in trouble. At no time do you expect someone to die, and even the climatic battle was predictable. I never felt like I was there, and I certainly never had to put the book down because it was getting intense.

Granted, I'm holding this book to the standards that I've come to expect from 40k novels. I'm sure that part of this is due to the fact that I'm busy catching up on the Horus Heresy series, and alternating between praying for SW:TOR and the 40k MMO. Space Marines and Starcraft Marines just look alike in my book (the armor is great), and don't tell me there isn't a correlation between the Zerg/Tyranids and the Protoss/Eldar. Of course there's no chainswords, but you can't have everything.

In the end

The book was a good read, and helps set the stage for SC:2 by giving me a little teaser into Jim Raynor's life before we meet him in the original Starcraft game. It sticks to the "Rated T for Teen" type of setting we see with Blizzard's games, where I was hoping for more of an "M for Mature" - or maybe higher. More details, less fluff - and don't go light on the combat scenes either.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Addons and you - picking the right path

A few months ago I had a problem with my truck that took some diagnosing. I couldn't figure out exactly what was going on, but I lost the power-steering. It wasn't a belt, the pump, or fluid - something just wasn't working right. While I was troubleshooting it, I wound up losing the power-brakes as well. Again, not a problem with the lines or the master cylinder.

While I was troubleshooting all this, I still had to get to work, so I just drove it like it was. I grew up learning to drive an old farm truck that didn't have power steering or brakes, so it was kind of just like going home again. I had to anticipate turns and stops a little more for sure, and I certainly couldn't turn by just palming the wheel any more. I felt like this made me a better driver though, so I've kept with it like this.

I mean, let's face it. Power steering and power brakes really just make you lazy. You don't have to react as quickly, because the vehicle will do part of the work for you. This is even worse if you use the anti-collision/proximity warning devices that you find on some SUVs and minivans. Same thing can be said for the blind-spot mirrors I added onto my truck. If I can't merge in traffic without hitting someone with my trailer, I probably shouldn't be driving.

As a way to help other drivers around me, I've also disabled my blinkers and brake lights on my truck. Part of being a heads up driver is paying attention to what everyone around you is doing, and to anticipate their next move by watching their body language, your surroundings, and what their vehicle is doing. I guarantee when you don't use brake lights and turn signals, folks follow that two second rule and stay the heck out of your blind spot.

Of course I don't see everyone around me following this type of driving thought process, but maybe by being out there, I can influence others to follow my lead. When I get a ticket, I just chalk it up to me being a better driver than others, and this is the cross I have to bear in order to show others what they're missing.

Sound idiotic?

It really kind of is. While it's true I don't need any of those things to be a good driver, and folks probably would pay more attention if suddenly there were no brake lights or turn signals, they do make life easier and safer for others. While you can't draw a direct corrolation (simply because there's that added "law" factor) between this story and the one Codi told here, I think the abstract point should be pretty clear.

Tam and Chass over at Righteous Orbs already had their own spin on this type of nonsense, but I think it bears further investigation here. I certainly don't begrudge Codi her choice in running addon free - after all, play the way that makes you happy. Just don't expect me to be happy when your play-style impacts mine.

Are addons cheating?

First, let's knock this silly theory right out of the discussion. Addons are available for one reason, and one reason only - Blizzard intentionally opened up the gaming interface to allow them. They have specifically stated (on more than one occasion) that they WANT people to be using and writing addons. Anyone who has played the game for more than a few major patch cycles has seen addon after addon rolled into the base UI.

Remember Wardrobe-AI and the other gear swapping mods we used to have? Notice those pretty map shading areas in your quest log now? How about something as simple as a boss emote?

All of these things have been rolled into the base design of WoW. While you can certainly argue that they aren't as good as an independent addon, obviously someone at Blizzard recognized that these features were in such high demand that they should be part of the standard game package. Blizzard also recognizes that their tools aren't as good in all areas, which is why they opened up more of the code for threat - allowing tools like Omen to work more accurately. Guessed absorbs in Skada and Recount don't work just because they're well designed, they work because Blizzard recognized that their combat log wasn't getting it done - and that the need was out there.

They play the game for you

If this was true, every guild on the planet would have cleared H-ICC 25m in a PUG by now. Even AVR (which was broken by Blizzard) couldn't make your toon move out of the "Giant Big" in time. DBM can't fire your cooldown when you're about to eat an Soul Reaper, and Vuhdo/Grid can't cleanse your targets for you.

All these addons do is give you the information you need, in a way that you can most easily process it.

Let's go back to my truck examples above. Look at the dash/steering of a car that is 15 or 20 years old. What do you see? On the steering wheel you'll probably see a button for the horn, and that's about it. On the column you'll have your wipers, turn signals, cruise control, and maybe your hazard lights. Your dash has your environmental controls, your radio, and your various dials and warning lights.

Now look on a modern car, especially one that isn't a stripped down model. Environmental controls? On the wheel. Radio controls? On the wheel. Hazzard lights? Big button on the dash. Depending on the model you might even have a computer readout to tell you your tire pressure, radiator coolant levels, and how far you can expect to get on your current fuel level.

Do these things make you a better or a worse driver? It's hard to say really, because we have so many other things that can influance our driving. The thought behind them though, is that the more time you spend with your hands on the wheel and watching the road, the less time you'll spend fiddling with the radio and running into someone.

Of course if you're watching the in dash DVD player or playing Bejeweled while raiding - you're pretty much doomed to failure regardless.

My point

In the end, the addons and tools that are available are just that - tools. They can help you do your job better, and let you focus on more than one thing at a time. Just like a carpenter who uses power tools and a nail gun can build a great house (or a bad one), so too can the Amish guy who cuts everything by hand and drives every nail. Neither one is necessarily right or wrong, it's just a different style.

It's certainly smart to keep your skills honed to the point where you can perform without addons, but it's not the end of the world. I've had to heal with the standard frames before, and while I can do it, it's not much fun. Sure, it's important for me to know that someone has a curse or effect on them (like Mortal Strike) that I can't cleanse - just so I know they might need extra attention - but it's not something that should detract from what I'm doing.

It's also smart to check your addons before a raid starts. You know that on Tuesdays there is a greater than even money chance that something has been broken - especially when you download a new patch. Most addon developers have their respective tools updated within a few hours on patch day. Sometimes there's several releases in the span of a single day. It's your responsibility to keep up with that though.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go put the fuses back in my truck.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Time for a Grid revamp

Grid has been my mainstay raid frame addon since, well since I first started healing on a little baby shaman. I like the clean nature of it, and that it's pretty customizable and easy view. I don't have a problem with little indicator lights to show me things like agro, curses, bubbles, etc., but I do have one thing I'd like to change.

The size

I have not seen another Grid setup that looks like mine. Part of this may be that I have some bastardized German version leftover from the time I let Unbearabull take me on a UI ride (I really did like that UI though). So when you die now, it just says TOT, and something different for FD (I just notice that the box isn't grayed out). Ghost is still ghost though, so go figure.

My biggest challenge will be cleaning every scrap of Grid out of my UI folders. It was a mess when I realm transferred, and as I mentioned in my Carbonite post - my UI is in need of an overhaul. While it may be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic (with Cataclysm sure to break and change everything), I figure that this is the best time to start playing with a new UI. The worst I have to fear is screwing up in a PUG raid (I do a GDKP to pay the bills for my alts), and given that most GDKPs don't go more than 8/12 - I can do those in my sleep.

The alternatives

I'm really not keen on Vuhdo, though I did give it a spin for a while when we first started working on LK. I like using mouse-over macros, not clique(esque) type setups, which Vuhdo seemed to use right out of the box. Sometimes I just want to target someone, and the last time I used click style macros I wiped the raid on the Four Horseman (Sorry Hanora).

Healbot got a bad name from way back when, and I've never really looked at it seriously. Part of my reasoning is I use Grid as my healing/raid frame package - I don't have separate frames out for anything else. I used to do this when I was raid leading in BC, but I've found that I can get all the info I need from Grid.

The rest of the UI

I'll be putting my whole UI up for others to look at, and I'm busy scouring the blogs for UIs to steal from. At this point anything is on the table, though I have gotten used to having things like a HUD, scrolling combat text, and my Razer. I definately need to move my map though. Trying to keep an eye on it while farming, leveling, and watching for Alliance is getting a bit much.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Replacement for Carbonite Punks

One of the things I'm still adapting to on the PvP server is keeping my eyes peeled all the time for Alliance folks in the area. I've been lucky in that I haven't been camped yet, though I have gotten ganked a few times in my leveling. Usually it's just someone running by who sees a lowbie in the area. Depending on what I'm doing, I've even dropped one or two. I'm certainly not afraid to engage in PvP when it's 'fair' footing.

What I need though, is a replacement for Carbonite's "Punks" feature. For those that don't use Carbonite, it basically will detect when someone of the opposite faction is near you, and you can target them via the frame. It won't prevent someone from getting that Pom Pyroblast off on you, but you might have time for a defensive move. I think it it along the lines of a proximity alert in Star Trek.

That's actually the scene that plays in my head. I may, or may not, call for shields as if I was Kirk getting ready to face off against the Klingons. Especially if I see I Pyroblast incoming. Penance is my torpedoes, and I am pretty quick to get the DoTs off.

Unfortunately, playing a Priest (especially at this level), my survivability is a touch limited if I don't have a chance to get a PW:S up first. If the first shots land, I usually am playing catchup instead of dishing out my own offense. This is also true on the Pally, where I'm limited to melee attacks. I need to know that someone is in my immediate area.

Carbonite is heavy

Unfortunately Carbonite is extremely memory intensive in the addon department. While it's great for questing (especially when coupled with LightHeaded), the total package is weighing in around 20 or 30 MB of addon memory. That's just ridiculous. I know entire UI setups that don't push past 10, and on a bad day (when I forget to reset recount) my addon setup can push 100MB.

Obviously I need to do more than just replace Carbonite. This is a step though.

So - does anyone know of an addon that will replace the 'Punks' portion of Carbonite? If I can get that all alone, I should be able to drop Carbonite and LightHeaded all together. The in game quest helper has come a long ways, and now that I'm pretty much just leveling through dungeons, I don't need the additional help. That, and once you've put two or three toons up to 80, you pretty much know where all the quests are.

So - anyone have an addon that will handle that?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Almost too many options

As a Holy Paladin, I'm used to working with the limited, albiet powerful, toolbox available. Yes, we have more "I just saved your life" buttons than any other healer, and our raw HPS is at the top of the healing charts. Tanking with a Paladin behind you means that you don't worry until you're sitting at 50% HP - where as a Druid healer will have you concerned (unless you see HoTs ticking). Sure, they can pull Swiftmend/Nourish/Living Seed out - but the Healadin is going to keep you bathed in Holy Light until you start to glow.

Even though our healing toolkit is technically limited to three (five if you count SS and BOL) spells, we have several CDs to help ourselves out. Mana conservation, 100% crit, damage reduction, and Aura Mastery - just to name the talented ones. These are a lot of situational cooldowns to manage, but you can start to tell the average Paladins from the great ones, just by looking at CD usage.

Now the Priest

Holy bouncing heals Batman! At 65 I've got more heals than I know what to do with, and I'm not even sure that I'm prioritizing them right. I've got my PW:S, Penance, Flash Heal, Renew, Binding Heal, Greater Heal, Holy Nova, and Circle of Healing. As a Disc Priest I obviously tend to lean towards PW:S and Pennance, though I've noticed that I use a lot of Renew and Flash Heal as well. Greater Heal is second only to Prayer of Healing for least cast spells - even Holy Nova ranks higher simply because it's an instant cast.

My typical instance involves me keeping shields on the tank (and the over eager DPS who pull agro), and using renew as a buffer between shields. Penance and Flash Heal fill in the rest. If there's a dire AoE heal need, I use Holy Nova if I think they'll die before PoH goes off. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm fairly certain that given the cost of the GCD, even putting a shield out to proc Borrowed Time isn't a smarter move. 1.5 sec GCD > 25% haste on a 3 second cast.

Once I pick up PoM that will go into my instant heal rotation. I need to read up on how it works though, as I'm not 100% up on the mechanics.

Back to the point

My point here, is that as a Disc Priest (Holy is just as bad I'm sure) I've got a veritable ton of heals to choose from. Fast vs. slow, AoE vs Single, HoT vs Direct. So many choices. I think this really adds to the power of the priest, but I can see why so many priests can't get a full grip on their class. As a Paladin, every target is a nail - you just choose which hammer to hit it with. With a full box of tools, I'm loving the choices. Finding the right heal for the job adds something to the class for sure.

Of course, for a new player this might be overwhelming. One of my office mates is trying out a new priest, and I'll see what she has to say about it later this week.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Profession examination

Cataclsym is around the corner (or three) and it's time to start taking that good hard look at my chosen professions. OK, it's not really a long look, but more of a "well this is going to suck" type of thought process.

I have a stable full of alts, and now that I'm leveling my priest (seriously, the priest is so sexytime I can't believe it) as a miner/JC - I should have all the professions covered come Cataclysm time. Of course my Blacksmith and LW are still on my old server, but I suppose I could pay to xfer them over when I'm ready to play them.

We don't know for sure what the bonuses to each profession will be come Cata, and I'm certainly torn as to which way I want to go. Some of this will depend on Mongrr (my healing partner and the inspiration behind my own priest) returning to WoW and solidifying our little 10m group (we're splintered far and wide at the moment), and the rest on what I'm doing. I love raiding, and I'm sure that will be my focus again come Cata - the only question is where.

So who to level

I generally prefer (obviously) to level whichever toon I plan on making my "main" raider first. Right now the Paladin and Priest are looking about equal, though my Pally will certainly have an easier time of things since she's decked out in 264 gear. To be fair though, the ICC gear can only take you so far. While I expect we'll see the world firsts pushing raid zones in their ICC gear (Similar to Nihlum with Naxx/Maly/Sarth in early WotLK) - I don't know how much of that we'll see. I recall a post saying that 277 gear probably won't be replaced until late in the leveling process or the first raids, and to be honest, that's probably how it should be.

I'm getting off topic though.

So back to who I'm going to level, and their professions. My current stable of professions looks like this. Assume any class that can tank, I tank with - and healing goes the same way. You'll notice a sever lack of DPSers in my stable of players.

  • Warrior - Herbalism/Blacksmithing. WTF!??! Back when I first made Tarde in early Vanilla, he was an Herb/Alch so I could make my own tank pots. This was back when you could easily use 3 or 4 elixirs, a flask, and chains of pots in a single boss pull. Do not miss. I picked up Blacksmithing when I was going through some burnout in BC, and switched to doing arenas with W-Crusher and Frog (quite possibly one of the best players I've ever known). I needed a smoking 2H, and in S2, the mace was the hottest thing out there.
  • DK - Skinning/LW. No real story here.
  • Mage - Tailor/Chanter. Seems pretty vanilla. Don't ask me why I picked enchanting up when my shaman already has it.
  • Shaman - Inscription/Enchanting. Min/Max for raiding, the ring enchants and the shoulder enchants were pretty hot. They were beat out by JC/BS, but I already had Enchanting leveled from BC. This was my first raiding toon in Wrath, but she's since been collecting dust.
  • Paladin - Alch/Eng. Again, WTF!?! I picked up Engineering becuase W-Crusher was my Paladin idol, and it was something he'd stuck with from the beginning. In Wrath it actually became fairly decent, and having a permenant parachute cloak has been worth every dime spent leveling this. With a mailbox and Jeeves, I don't see me dropping this come Cata. Alch I picked up for the double flask durations and increased elixir/potion effects. Mmmm.
  • Druid (72) - Herb/Skin. Picking flowers while flying. Nuff said. Oh, and I don't like druid healing much at all.
  • Priest (65) - Mining/JC - Expensive. I picked these two for this alt simply because I didn't have them anywhere else.
So, with the Paladin and Priest being my front runners for raiding mains, only the Priest has the gathering profession to support her crafting one. It's a tough choice to be sure though. I suppose the advantage to leveling the Priest first is that her mining can support the Paladin's Engineering later. Leveling the Druid will supplement the Alchemy and the Inscription on the shaman, and the skinning will support the Leatherworker (my lowest of the low priorities).

In the end

None of this really matters to be honest. If Mongrr returns and the Punchout Gang comes back to ride again, I'll be on my Paladin. The only real question is, should I then drop my Alchemy now to level mining before the xpac?